Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reach Out....

Just a little something taken last weekend during an Easter visit from my Granddaughter (and her parents!)...
She's pretty much in constant motion, but I was able to catch her a few times.  I particularly like these two...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday - October 1989

Everybody seems to be doing the Throwback Thursday "thing", I figured I'd join in, for today at least.

This is me, 25 years ago this fall.  Just a couple of months after I moved to the midwest and became an application engineer.  I foolishly told my boss I'd like to attend this conference, he responded by volunteering me for a presentation.  Lesson learned.

This was my first large technical presentation; first speaker at the inagural Multi-Amp (now Megger) User's Conference in Dallas, Tx.  I don't know exactly how many people were there, but probably only 100 +/-.  Not sure if the conference still exists, but I presented there a coupleof times in the 90's.

I didn't know about this photo until it was used in the brochure for the next year's onference.  This is scanned from that brochure. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dandelion don't tell no lies, Dandelion will make you wise...

Thanks to the Rolling Stones...

It Doesn't Matter Anymore....

Regular readers know that I've lately been digging up setlists from concerts seen in my youth.  I've posted The Who, The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  All have been made into iPod playlists, along with R.E.M, Croby Stills and Nash, and Stills Young Band.  And Linda Ronstadt. 
In honor of her recent induction to the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, I fingured to post about Linda R.


I first saw Linda Ronstadt August 21, 1976, at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.  That was the only show I saw at the Syria Mosque, which was torn down over 20 years ago.  But I remember it as a pretty cool (though already old) venue.  As far as Ronstadt, she was pretty much at her peak.   I went with a friend (RIP) whose mother dropped us off at the door, and we walked home (only ~2.5 miles, it was a different world in the 70's).  We had seats in the balcony, but in the small venue (3,700 seats), the view was great.  Then unknown Andrew Gold was the warm up act, and the back-up band. 

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a setlist from that night.  But I did find a setlist from 2 weeks earlier, at the Mississippi River Festival in Edwardsville, IL.  Which is just a stone's throw from where I currently live.  So that's cool.  I can't vouch for the accuracy*, but it's on the internet, so it must be right... right?  Regardless, it makes a very nice playlist

  • Lose Again
  • That'll Be The Day
  • Blue Bayou
  • Silver Threads And Golden Needles
  • Willin'
  • Faithless Love
  • It Doesn't Matter Any More
  • When WIll I Be Loved?
  • Crazy
  • Poor Poor Pitiful Me
  • Desperado
  • Love Me Tender
  • Simple Man Simple Dream
  • Love Is A Rose
  • Maybe I'm Right
  • It's So Easy
  • Someone To Lay Down Beside Me
  • Tumbling Dice
  • You're No Good
  • Sorrow Lives Here
  • (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave.

* - In fact, I have some concerns about the accuracy.  The playlist is heavily weighted with somgs from Simple Dreams, which wasn't released until 9/77, rather than the then-new Hasten Down The WindRegardless, I'll work with what data I have, and I still like the playlist...

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Year's Resolution - Update #3

Ready For Spring, I am......

All of a sudden, we've made it 30% of the way through 2014! As with the prior milestones, it's time to check back on my New Years Resolutions. Trying to keep those goals S.M.A.R.T.  And in the spirit of accountability, I’ll publish my progress…  SO, what did I resolve?

1) More Photography!  UPDATE #3:
I've been pretty busy taking images this segment, which has been primarily reflected on the blogs.  With 16 images heree, and another 7 at Happenstance, etc.  That's down a bit from the last 10% segment, but WAY more than published over the same time last year.  I also had several photos printed (but yet to be mounted / framed), and did a family photo for some friends (of which I'm pretty pleased).  Started (just) an instagram account, still figuring what all that means, and have experimented a little with some iPhone aps like Sphere...   I'll go A-.

2) More Walking!  UPDATE #3: 
Mixed bag:  During the 3rd 10% of 2014, I did NOT exceed my distance from the same period in 2013.  In fact, I was about 25% below.  Mostly due to a 12 day lull, where I averaged "next to nothing".  On the plus side, over the past 2 weeks, I've been making some mailes, and ytd and above last year, and quite near the +20% goal.  Still, not a good moth, I'll be generous and go C+. 

3) Weight.  UPDATE #3:
Ugly.  I did not lose any weight over the past segment.  I spent most of the segment in a pretty tight band (2-3 pounds).  But we're not to the "maintin" yet...  No excuses, have gotten slack on the eating side.  Need to get back on the program, it's a long year, with lots of time tomake it up.  But, again being generous, I can't go above D.

The next segment will be challenging, I'll be traveling, with events like graduations and weddings.  But, I still need to make it all work.

Look for next update, on or around 5/28 (40% of year).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fun with Fungi?

I found these funky fungi along the trail at Watershed Nature Center.  Yes, another post from last weekend's wandering. Deal with it. (please?)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fail... And Fail Again.

Another image from Watershed Nature Center.  When I captured this, I thought it would be great.  But after the fact?  Meh.  Maybe it's the distracting background elements (darn duck).  Maybe the fact that the rotted stump doesn't stand out at all (darn weather)...  I dunno.

I tried a different crop, focusing on the stump.  But I don't like it even as much as the original. But I'll still share, just in case I'm being too harsh on myself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Watershed On A Dreary Day

Another image from Sunday's excursion to Watershed Nature Center.    It wasn't a very nice day, the light was dull and flat.  It even rained a bit.  But I thought this turned out decent.  Except for the pesky people on the trail (right side background) that I didn't notice at the time.  Grrrrr.....

What Song Is It You Wanna Hear?

My first "real" concert was April 15, 1976.  38 Years ago today.  Lynyrd Skynyrd, with The Outlaws and Steve Marriott's All Star Band.  I define it as "real", because it was w/o my parents, not on some sort of school outing or such.  Just me and a friend, and ~17,000 other folk.  Festival Seating at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena.  Quite an initiation for a 15 year old kid.

Anyway, Despite all of the joys of the internet, I have not been able to find a set list of that particular night.  But I did find one for the following night, in Philly.  I figure that's close enough, so it's now a playlist on my iPod!
  • Double Trouble
  • I Ain't The One
  • Saturday Night Special
  • Gimme Back My Bullets
  • The Needle & The Spoon
  • Cry For The Bad Man
  • I Got The Same Old Blues
  • Searching
  • Gimme The Steps
  • Call Me The Breeze
  • T For Texas
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Free Bird (Encore)
This was the Gimme Back My Bullets Tour, after Ed King had left the band, but before Steve Gaines joined.  My recollection was that the Outlaws were awesome, and Skynyrd was awesome-squared.  And Steve Marriott provided a respite in the awsomeness so that we could catch our collective breath.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pop Music - April 1974

April 1974, "The Sting" received the Best Picture Oscar

Looking at American Top 40 charts for March, 1974... 40 years ago this month: What songs made their Top 40 debut? What was new and trending? Well, there were 17 songs entering the Top 40 during March (4 weeks). Here they are, ranked by eventual peak:

  • The Streak  - Ray Stevens - 1
  • You Make Me Feel Brand New  - Stylistics - 2
  • The Entertainer  - Marvin Hamlisch - 3
  • The Show Must Go On  - Three Dog Night - 4
  • Midnight At The Oasis  - Maria Muldaur - 6
  • Help Me  - Joni Mitchell - 7
  • (I've Been) Searchin' So Long  - Chicago - 9
  • Oh Very Young  - Cat Stevens - 10
  • I Won't Last A Day Without You  - Carpenters - 11
  • Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing  - Stevie Wonder - 16
  • Piano Man  - Billy Joel - 25
  • The Payback  - James Brown - 26
  • Mighty Mighty  - Earth, Wind & Fire - 29
  • I'm A Train  - Albert Hammond - 31
  • Outside Woman  - Bloodstone - 34
  • Thanks For Saving My Life  - Billy Paul - 37
  • Star Baby  - Guess Who - 39

I was actually able to find all 17 of these songs on Spotify. And added to a playlist. Right now it includes through June 1974, and 106 of the 115 songs which entered the Top 40 in the 1st half on 1974. I'm pretty impressed that they have over 92% of these songs...

Check it out:

St. Ellen Trail

St. Ellen Mine Park is one of my frequent spots for a lunch-time walk.  And a place that has appeared frequently on these pages.  Connecting to the North-East corner of the park is a bike trail.  It is unmarked, but looking at Google, it carries the name St. Ellen Trail.  Not too long ago, I decided to check it out.  It's pretty much what you see above.  Perfectly straight, perfectly straight, and only 0.5 miles. But that;s far from terrible.

There is a really cool old building at the far end....  Well, perhaps "far" isn't the best word.   For now, with the nice weather, it makes a nice extension to the 1.2 mile loop.  I've been walking it more lately, the image above if from this past week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Disappointing "Live" Albums

One of the Music Forums I frequent is going through one of their periodic best / favorite live albums threads.  And I think all of my favorites show up somewhere in the list (Rock Of Ages, Waiting For Columbus, One From The Road, Genesis Live, Live At Leeds...).  But it got me thinking about the other side of the coin.  Live albums that I don't particulalrly like, or which disappointed me...  SO, in alphabetical order here's a few:

  • Black Sabbath - Live At Last - This was an import I picked up in college. A 1973 recording, released in UK in 1980 "without the permission or knowledge of the band". It wasn't released in '73 because the band was "unhappy with the recording". If I had realized that, I probably wouldn't have bought it...
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening - I know of some people who really like this album, but IMHO, it lacks the energy of On Your Feet... (Which I really like).  Or of the times I had seen them live.   Again, Allmusic sums it nicely: "A perfectly acceptable, completely unnecessary souvenir record . I just expected more than that...
  • Joe Jackson - Live 1980/86- I had seen Joe Jackson a couple of times when this came out, and he was great both times.  So I was pretty excited when this was released.  But I just doesn't capture my interest.  I think Allmusic put it perfectly when they said:  "The resulting album highlights his musical diversity ... which means the record is more intriguing as a historical document than as casual listening."
  • Monkees - Live 1967 - My disappointment centers around what Allmusic calls "the lack of anything resembling fidelity".  Perhaps interesting as documenting a moment...  but not as something you'd really want to listen to repeatedly....
  • Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Pack Up The Plantation - Yet another where I'm just not captivated.  And again, perhaps because the live recording didn't remotely match my experience of seeing them myself.  As Allmusic put it:  "it isn't quite the stunning performance that the Heartbreakers are capable of delivering."
Looking back at this list, I notice that 4 of the 5 albums mentioned are from bands that I saw in concert prior to hearing the live album.  Wonder if there's a connection... Meanwhile, for the 5 "favorites" I mentioned above, I'd only seen 1 of the bands live (before hearing the album). Hmmmmm...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Last image from last Sunday's walk at Greenspace North.  This is actually the first shot of the series, but last up here.  A large tree trunk laying alongside a small creek. The whole circle of life thing, ya know?  I liked the layers effect...  Moss, wood, leaves twigs, mud, water.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Another from last Sunday's walk through Greenspace North.  I guess you'd call this the trunk of a bush?  Whatever the technical term, I was intrigued by the thing.  A longer view is at Happenstance...  This is one of those times when I wish I knew more about botany.  Anybody know what this plant is??  I may have to go back and take some photos that shoe the whole plant.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Road Goes On Forever...

I was listening to the Allman Brothers the other day, one of my more-favored bands for a long time. 
But, I can't claim to be an early adopter.  The reality is, when they released their first album, I was a 9 year old kid living in West Virginia, and listening to American Top 40 on WKAZ (AM)...  And ABB wasn't exactly an AT40 kind of band.  I didn't really transition into "real rock radio" until '72 or '73.  My first real recollection of ABB was when "Rambling Man" was a hit (their 1st Top 40)...  Over the next couple of years, I got to know their popular stuff via WDVE, which was AOR in the '70s.  So, when ABB released a greatest hits album in 1975, I jumped on it.  And was hooked.  Over the years I've filled out the collection pretty well, and I currently own almost all of their music released between 1969 and 1979.

Meanwhile, I've only seen ABB in concert once.  If the info on the internet is right, it was December 29th, 1981, at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.  With Molly Hatchet as the warm up band.  I remember the show as being just OK... at best.

ABB's Setlist that night:
  • Jessica
  • Can't Take It With You
  • Blue Sky
  • Leavin'
  • I Got A Right To Be Wrong
  • You Don't Love Me
  • Midnight Rider
  • In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
  • Need Your Love So Bad
  • Melissa
  • Never Knew How Much (I Needed You)
  • One Way Out
  • Southbound
  • The Judgement
  • Statesboro Blues
Interesting (but not all that surprising), a big chunk of this show was songs from 1980's albums "Brothers of The Road" and "Reach For The Sky".  Which are not exactly renouned, defined by wikipedia as "a pair of critically slammed albums".  They disbanded in January 1982.  It looks like they only did a total of 7 shows after this one.

Of course, ABB re-reformed in 1989, and continues to tour today.  So the road does (seemingly) go on forever...

Out In The Woods...

Local lawns were a LOT greener this weekend, compared to just a few days a go.  But it's still pretty bare in the woods.  Which is OK, especially for wandering around off the tails.  I took this image Sunday afternoon during a late afternoon excursion to Glen Carbon's "Greenspace North".  Just a few dozen feet off the trail, but enough to find some nice perspectives...    Locations was somewhere around here.

Post title is from the Leon Russell song:  "Can't tell the bad from the good, I'm out in the woods"

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Keep On Tryin'

I've tried many times to make a decent image of these tall grasses...  But I've never come up with anything I particularly like.  I'm not sure I've even posted any of the previous ones.  But this one's close....  kinda.  So here you go!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Friday, April 04, 2014

What Passes For Art...

This is in response to a Facebook post from a old friend, Scott.  He posted two photos, with the following:

OK FB world, this is art.  (Or at least what passes for art in my mind.) Please click on each picture to see it in full, then answer:  Which one of these pictures is better?  Cactus lines parallel with sky lines, or cactus lines intersecting sky lines?  Explain your answer.

Scott's photos:
Photo 1                                        Photo 2
 (reprinted without permission, but I beg forgiveness in the spirit of the exercise).

Now I previously posted my preference, with an offer to "provide a detailed analysis later".  Now is later, and this is the forum I chose to expound.  I'll post this link in the comments to the original FB post, we'll see in anybody clicks through.

Firstly, the anser to "which is better?" is:  It Depends.  For what is "better" but a construct of a critic?  And who am I do discern which is "better"?  After all, "where there is clarity, there is no choice.  And where there is choice, there is misery..."

That said; I prefer the Photo 2. 
I like how the lines of the clouds cross the lines of the cactus.  But they’re not exactly perpendicular, which would be too static (IMHO).  The sky is a deeper blue, I expect from the angle of the sun (behind the photographer).  This provides a better contrast against the green of the cactus.  From this angle, the clouds present  a more even gradient of white (top left to bottom right), which I find more appealing.    As far as the cactus itself?  I much prefer this version.  The cactus is a much larger part of this image, more dominant.  The closer positioning emphasizes the spines, and also leads to a sharper angle, giving more of a “vanishing point” effect.  The flat lighting allows the details of the cactus to stand out. 

As far as Photo 1? 
This is my “less favorite”, by a fair margin.  The lines in the sky are de-emphasized by the lines of the cactus, not reinforced.  To me, the left-to-right gradient looks unnatural.  Or, you could present landscape orientation, in which case the cactus looks unnatural.  Either way, I don’t like it.  The side-lighting of the cactus it a bit contrasty and makes the light and shadows a key visual element, rather than the shape of the spines themselves.  The overall color of the cactus is darker, and it doesn’t “pop” against the sky.  It seems to almost blend in, fade away towards the top…  Most significantly, I don’t like the angle from further away.  The cactus doesn’t hold its own in this version.  Rather it is left to compete with the sky for the viewer’s attention.
 - - - - - - - - -
So there you have it Scott.  That'll teach you to ask my opinion.  Of course YMMV, and all that rot.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April 1974

Continuing the series, (Jan, Feb and Mar):

April 1974... 40 years ago... I was 13.5 years old, in 8th grade and living in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Pirates opened a season in which they would finish 1st (and lose to LA Dodgers in LCS).  It would be their 4th divisional championship in 5 years.  In today's world it's easy to forget how successful the Pirates were in the 70's.  They won 2x World Series, 6 division titles, and only finished as low as 3rd once.  But the big story in baseball was Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.

Meanwhile, "The Sting" won the Academy Award for best picture.  And the US suffered a "Super Outbreak" of Tornadoes....
What was happening in music?

Albums released in 1974 include:
  •  Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping.  Featuring the iconic "Sweet Home Alabama".  Skynyrd's first, and biggest hit. 
  • Poco - Seven.  Poco's first album post-Richie Furay, continuing to be the best unknown "country rock" band.
  • J.J. Cale - Okie.  The 3rd release from my favorite obscure artist.  Yep. I liked J.J. Cale before it was cool.
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Secret Treaties.  My introduction to BOC, and still one of my favorite albums....  "Being chased around, by the neighbor's cat, but it's so lonely in the state of Maine!"
Yep, I have all of those on vinyl.   As for singles, only 3 songs topped the charts in April 1974:
Some really good songs made their chart debuts: